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By Bulbul Singh

17 Apr 07. India is developing an Intercontinental ballistic missile and also a submarine launched ballistic missile. The revelation comes in the wake of the successful test of 3000 kilometers range Agni-3 missile

Indian scientists say the Agni-3 test will enable them to extend the range of the missile to an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of over 5000 kilometers.

Scientists in India’s defence research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] however said, the design and development of the intercontinental ballistic missile called Surya is already underway for the last four years. While the scientists publically maintained the position that the Agni-3 missile can be extended into an Intercontinental ballistic missile, sources said the 5000 kilometers-range missile is already in the development stage.

A third stage is being squeezed into the Agni-3 to make it into an intercontinental ballistic missile with a payload of 1.5 tonne said the scientists. Sources in DRDO also revealed that design and development is also underway on building a submarine launched 3000 kilometers range Agni-3 variant. No details of the project are known but sources added that work is in advanced stages.

The Agni 3, also called as a China-centric, as it has a reach inside China, was launched from Wheeler’s island off the Orissa coast last week flew nearly its full range of 3,000 km in about 13 minutes, climbing to an altitude of 365 km, before re-entering the atmosphere at 15 times the speed of sound, and impacting beyond the equator. The missile with a 1.5 tonne warhead fell into intercontinental waters and crossed the equator. Indian scientists claim that 85 per cent parts in the missile are homegrown and last week’s test included a “flex nozzle control” for the rocket motor, a specially developed composite propellant, a guidance and control system.

The Agni-3 ballistic missile is a two-stage solid-fuelled system, with a 1.5-tonne payload, which includes the warhead, an inertial navigation system and an on-board computer to guide the missile; it weighs 48 tones. A scientist from Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO, the organization responsible for design and development of the Agni-3 said the tests have validated the light-weight, composite material rocket motor developed by DRDO and also the flex nozzles which is critical in helping change the direction of the trajectory of the missile.

In July last year the first test launch of Agni-3 failed and there were apprehensions of the Agni project itself being rounded off. At least 258 industries in the public and private sector are involved in the production of key components of the Agni III. The Indian Army has already inducted the Agni-I, with a range of 700km while first fully solid-state missile, the 2,000-km Agni-II, is currently being inducted. An Indian defence ministry official said tests will continue for the Agni series of missiles. He said, India needs to catch up with China’s nuclear-capable ballistic missile capabilities which range up to 11000 kilometers. China also has submarine launched ballistic missiles.

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